Of Hammer and Lightning: Vote-winning Strategies


How will the elections be played out this time?

No party walks into a national poll without a fighting strategy. In 2011, the opposition’s big ticket was selling hard on the side effects of policy making. Because 2011 happened after the years following a recession, the administration was busy pulling in finance from wherever possible – even if that meant an unhealthy amount of foreigners entering the country. The strategy was a no brainer: attack the PAP on infrastructure and foreigners.

Property prices have more or less stabled. Manpower has been controlled. Transport… well, I think the recent breakdowns have left a bit of a bad aftertaste.

I spoke with George Wong, 26, a postgraduate student from the NTU, to quiz him on what he thinks would be the new strategies adopted by the two biggest parties in Singapore.


Strategy 1: The 1/3 Strategy

(Give us just 1/3 of the seats, let us be a powerful force against the PAP.)


The party said that it will be contesting 28 out of 89 seats in the coming elections. That’s about one-third. (It contested 23 out of 87 seats in GE2011.) This means that voters can be rest assured to woo the WP without fearing that the ruling party will get overthrown.

That is… IF other constituencies don’t fall to the other opposition parties of course.

Whether this would work depends largely on the fieldwork done in the last 3 years, and if the areas they are contesting are familiar ground. For the past 2 elections the party has focused on the east.

“So in short, will the 1/3 parliamentary strategy option work with Singaporeans? Probably only to those who have the intention to vote either for or against WP in the first place… For swing voters, the lack of information on the media out there on its consequences is the crucial factor in splitting the swing vote,” said George.

Their bid to reach 1/3 in parliament is an interesting outcome that is still not quite cognizant with voters as to what are the implications should a situation like this occurs. George believes the fact that the WP hasn’t drummed on this aspect yet is probably to use it as a possible chip they can use to capture opposition-inclined swing voters in the later parts, but for now it’s anyone guess how they would use it.


“The biggest concern for them of course now is whether the opposition parties can rally among one another not to create multi-corner fights, which is then a difficult thing because parties like NSP and SingFirst are still quite unpredictable.”


Strategy 2: Sweet-talks and grandiose vision of a ‘First World Parliament’

To this campaign slogan used in the 2011 General Elections, the late founding PM Lee Kuan Yew asked, “Do you want a First World government or First World opposition?”

ESM Goh Chok Tong was also quick to put it down with an online search, citing that it means ‘a critical mass of opposition in Parliament’ and by that definition, almost every parliament in the world including Zimbabwe and Myanmar are “First World” parliaments.


But I guess the Workers’ Party will still stick to it, since its leader Low Thia Khiang defined it as “One which is able to balance a strong executive with a check and balance mechanism; formed by a credible and responsible opposition that is given the mandate by the electorate.”

And more importantly, “THIS IS THE FIRST STEP TO STOP FURTHER ABUSE OF POWER BY THE PAP!” Who cares about the definition? ‘First World Parliament’ sounds grandiose, and just might bring in more votes.


Strategy 3: Fire away and hope some bullets hit the PAP

Why do I have to conduct meet-the-people sessions at the HDB void deck? Is PA (People’s Association) under the PAP or what? Why does PAP have branches all over Singapore? PAP should not field a foreign talent who is not a Singapore citizen and has not served National Service.

Why is there a fall in job growth the past year? Why HDB flats are of such poor quality nowadays? Why give so many scholarships to international students?

Basically, cry foul play and raise hot button issues to resonate with the people. Also what PM Lee referred to as “turning into tiger and heroes during election time”.


“(Election-wise) I think we are also rational, we don’t accuse the PAP of something that we cannot substantiate, or I know we’ll get sued. So I think we’re fair!” – Low Thia Khiang, 28 May 2014



As for the lightning that is People’s Action Party –

The People’s Action Party is quite likely to sell on the same things: a strong, proven, robust party. But the danger they face is that the electorate is bored of this theme.


(He certainly looks bored.)

“I believe this time the PAP seems to be going on a defensive, which is something rather different from its previous containment strategy,” said George. “It will be interesting to see how the PAP will organize their electoral strategies in the east this time because their past strategy hasn’t worked twice, and while Dr Ng Eng Hen announced in the mainstream media that the PAP has revealed their cards early, I think the stratagem for the east side is still a mystery.”

“As for the West part of Singapore, based on what they have done so far, it doesn’t point out that they are doing anything different from what they have done previously, which is to beef up the West Coast-Jurong area and maintain its stronghold status.”





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